Q&A Of The Day – Mask “Efficacy” Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: Hi Brian, I look forward to your two hours every weekday. You truly standout as a "free thinker" and not just another radio personality spewing the same rhetoric.
One of your favorite catch phrases is "if the premise is false the whole argument is not valid (or something close to that) I agree completely. Your persistent desire to find the truth and not just go with the flow is why I am reaching out to you for your insight.
Where are the studies that prove wearing a cloth face covering "mask" reduces your chance of contracting the COVID virus, or any flu type airborne virus for that matter? They should include data with % reductions based on age groups, data that shows the difference from inside and outside mask use.
Before I wear anything covering my face or encourage anyone to do so I want to know specifically why? Currently the vast majority of people believe wearing a cloth mask protects them and those around them from the virus, (I believe you are one of them Brian) but what scientific data is this based on? If the premise is incorrect, that masks significantly reduce your chances of contracting COVID then wearing a mask is nonsensical.
Hope you can help me and I am sure many other devoted listers understand the “mask” quandary.
Bottom Line: The kind words are appreciated as is your willingness to accept my pragmatism. You’re also right regarding my personal stance on masks and the reason is another of my sayings. There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. As always there remain two sides to stories and one side to facts. I establish them and go where they take me. It’s been a long time, in fact nearly a year, since I’ve covered accredited studies of mask efficacy. Those types of studies have and do exist.
The first related studies were released in April of last year and a smattering of related studies have occurred over the past year as well. Now’s a good time because just recently an accredited mask study testing against the variants was completed and recognized by the CDC. In total there are ten studies recognized by the CDC and posted to their website. I’m going to focus on two which most specifically address your question regarding the effectiveness of cloth masks, in addition to N95 masks. The first is a study published in the medical Journal the Lancet early in the pandemic last year. These were the takeaways from that study of defensive measures against the original strain of COVID-19:
- The use of masks reduces the spread of COVID-19 by an average of 85%
- Social distancing by as little as three feet reduces spread by 77%
- The use of masks in public are equally effective as compared to medical staff at hospitals
- N95 masks are 96% effective & basic masks are 77% effective
Ok, so specific to this conversation, the “basic” masks in the study are cloth masks. Clearly, they weren’t nearly as effective as the best available masks, however they were still effective against the original strain a little more than three-quarters of the time when studied. In the second part of today’s Q&A I’ll provide the updated look at what’s changed with the variants and will tie it into the current debate over kids in school as well.